The Intersection

Casey Luskin has now dug into my past and found some secularist credentials from my college days. Apparently he views this as some sort of smoking gun. As he puts it: “Chris Mooney provides a yet another example of the fact that many (though certainly not all, of course) leading Darwinist activists are secular humanists.”

Calling me a “leading Darwinist activist” is flattering, but a bit over the top; I haven’t really made a significant peep about evolution-related stuff (other than brief asides) in some time. As you may have noticed, I’ve been on the global warming beat.

Moreover, it’s rather ironic to find Discovery “outing” me because, although personally a secular person, I have actually been critical of folks like Richard Dawkins. While I generally agree with him, I consider Dawkins’ attacks on religion damaging to the cause of promoting wider acceptance of evolution.

But most importantly, doesn’t Discovery have anything better to do?


  1. #1 SteveF
    February 26, 2007

    You must be distraught.

  2. #2 Chris Mooney
    February 26, 2007

    No, not distraught, unless you have a thesaurus in which “distraught” and “amused” are synonyms…

  3. #3 G. Shelley
    February 26, 2007

    But most importantly, doesn’t Discovery have anything better to do?

    Well, they have to spend all that money on something.

  4. #4 Will
    February 26, 2007

    This changes everything! All of your science must be reevaluated in light of this information. As we all know, scientific facts have a curious way of being invalidated based on one’s beliefs. Chris, it will be better in the long run for future book sales if you maintain your cover as a raging Christian, even if the D.I. blew it.

  5. #5 SLC
    February 26, 2007

    Re Discovery Institute

    This only proves that the Discovery Institutes’ protestations that ID is about science, not religion are a big lie. After all, if that were true, Mr. Mooneys’ secularism would be a non-issue.

  6. #6 SteveF
    February 26, 2007

    Actually, it’s the Disco dictionary in which right equals wrong, left is right, up is down and intelligent design is science.

  7. #7 J-Dog
    February 26, 2007

    Casey Luskin – Attack Mouse Does It Again!

    Chris – I think it’s time to do a Chris Mooney expose article about the Rouas Rushdony, Howard Ahmanson Christian Reconstructionist links to the Discovery Institute.

  8. #8 eric
    February 26, 2007

    The instant Mooney plays the religious-motive card against Darwin-skeptics (which he does heavily in his book), he should realize that his own hand is weak.

    No. The reason for addressing the religious motivation of those who promote “creation science” is to attempt to explain why one would continue to repeat ideas that have been shown to be wrong over and over.

    Creationism is bad science, yet people continue to believe it and promote it. Intelligent design is bad science, yet people continue to believe and promote it. This makes people curious as to why this happens. The popular theory is that they are motivated by their fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

    When people believe and promote things that are correct, it’s a bit silly to then wonder why that is. Correctness is a good enough motivation.

    That is why ID’s religious background is relevant, and Mr. Mooney’s is not.

  9. #9 Greco
    February 26, 2007

    No, not distraught, unless you have a thesaurus in which “distraught” and “amused” are synonyms…

    I imagine you can find one of those in the DI library.

  10. #10 Rob
    February 26, 2007


    Could you do me a favor? Pass my name on to the Discovery Institute and see if you can get them to say something nasty about me? I’m an evangelical Christian who accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Back in college, was a member of InterVasity Christian Fellowship. I’m also a major proponent of evolution (that double major in biology and chemistry from that very same college having quite a bit to do with that, I bet). I wouldn’t call myself a “Darwinist,” but that’s because evolutionary theory has improved so much since he wrote.

    Ok, so this is just a crass attempt to get the Discovery Institute to say horrid things about me so my blog gets more hits. I only get about 70 hits a day, and it’s getting depressing.

    You are so lucky.

  11. #11 RickD
    February 26, 2007

    Re: G Shelley

    Let’s see – they have a theory which they say doesn’t get enough attention. Here’s a wacky idea: they could actually fund research in ID.

    And, like SLC, I am cotinually confused – is the DI pretending to not be religious front group this week? That’s what they always claim when court cases are involved.

  12. #12 Kristine
    February 26, 2007

    As you may have noticed, I’ve been on the global warming beat.

    But global warming is a “Darwinist conspiracy” too, don’t you know.

    …unless you have a thesaurus in which “distraught” and “amused” are synonyms…

    Sometimes, when I look at the pro-ID websites, I use that particular thesaurus.

  13. #13 Steve Reuland
    February 26, 2007

    Think of it this way, Chris. They wouldn’t be so keen on smearing you if they didn’t feel badly stung by the RWOS. A sure sign of success is when they release the attack poodle. Give yourself a pat on the back.

  14. #14 Fred Bortz
    February 26, 2007

    Can I be next, please?

    I have a middle-grade book called Astrobiology coming out late this year, and I could use the publicity. It talks about the importance of evolution for life to survive on a changing planet and how our planet has been particularly favored in that respect, leading to many wonderful life forms including one that may turn out to be too smart for its own good.

    So in the guise of describing an exciting and speculative science, I am insidiously spreading “Darwinism.” And I visit schools (click on my name) to do so.

    Horrors! Please, Discovery Institute, attack me before I do even more damage.

  15. #15 zach wilson
    February 26, 2007

    I’ve heard the term “Secular Humanism” thrown around like an insult for some time and I never really knew what it meant, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s more horrible than I thought:

    Secular humanism describes a world view with the following elements and principles:[2]

    Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.

    Reason, evidence, scientific method – Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.

    Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.

    Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.

    This life – A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.

    Ethics – A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.

    Building a better world – A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

  16. #16 Sustainable Sean
    February 26, 2007

    We’re so proud of you, to be targeted by the Discovery Institute is such an honor 🙂

  17. #17 Keanus
    February 26, 2007

    I’m always much amused at efforts of the DI to paint ID as pure science. Yet, here they are on their blog–which presumably should be solely devoted to science–attacking someone who rarely writes about evolution or religion for having expressed secular views in the past, making him an unqualified commenter on ID. By their efforts we shall know them. Hypocrites all.

  18. #18 John Fleck
    February 26, 2007

    I’m apparently in good company (you’re in good company? :-). I was similarly outed earlier this month.

  19. #19 Dark Tent
    February 26, 2007

    “Doesn’t Discovery have anything better to do?”

    It’s not that they don’t have anything better to do, it’s that they don’t have any good arguments.

    When all else fails — ie, if you have no good arguments of your own — focus on undermining the credibility of the person arguing against your position. This is the epitome of ad homininiminem “argumentation”.

  20. #20 Joanna Bryson
    February 26, 2007

    I used to think Dawkins was causing trouble (as you do), but I am more and more thinking that the US right is using religion as an excuse to undermine science simply because science is a “narrative” they can’t control, and they care more about control than about the fact science is not only a narrative, but one of the main engines of increased knowledge and economic strength that have supported the American experiment.

    I think I say this half the time I post in your blog, but I’ll keep saying it until I believe I’ve convinced you :-). Anyway, I think I’m learning better ways of stating it. I’ve started convincing UK socialist postmodern academics, and if you can get them liking science you can get anyone…

  21. #21 Karl J. Mogel
    February 26, 2007

    Let them whine and play the humanism card. Let them brand anyone that is not supportive of ID as anti-religion. For people who cry foul when personal beliefs are brought up to undermine their position, we know they are hypocrits and would say whatever it takes. For people who try to say that it’s about the science, they show us every day that it is not about the science at all. For them, it is all about their personal beliefs.

    Myself, I’m agnostic in the sense of what my position about unbelief and evolution – I recognize that evolution undoes the biological argument from design. But also, I know that people fear evolution because they fear either becoming atheists, or even reinterpreting their religious views in light of the evidence.

    One thing I can say, though, is that the best thing to do is get people interested in the science. Talk about the implications, but it is far more valuable to get people interested in the methods, because acceptance of the results follows from that.

  22. #22 Lettuce
    February 27, 2007

    …doesn’t Discovery have anything better to do?


    Although, sooner or later, they’ll happily use your words about your opinion of Dawkins agaiinst whoever they can.

    Never a good idea to talk tactics in public. You’re not Dawkins, if you don’t agree with his tactics, don’t defend them.

    Reminds me of Ed Brayton’s beefs with PZ Myers. Always seems a little control-freakish. (Although I’m sure that’s not how Ed sees it.)

  23. #23 Bob O'H
    February 27, 2007

    But most importantly, doesn’t Discovery have anything better to do?

    Like what? Resear..

    Oh, sod it. Even that’s getting boring now.


  24. #24 hamsterdaemus
    February 27, 2007

    No, not distraught, unless you have a thesaurus in which “distraught” and “amused” are synonyms…

    Posted by: Chris Mooney | February 26, 2007 07:48 AM

    Try Conservapedia. They can probably help you out with that.

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